Snell pleads guilty to changes from March 7 pursuit, shooting
Nikki Snell pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and to prohibited person in possession of a firearm in federal court on May 17.
Snell was the second occupant of the vehicle in the March 7 pursuit that resulted in a suspect and office being shot.
The driver, Jacob Bradley, 37, ran after stopping the vehicle and an officer pursued on foot, according to the Great Falls Police Department.
Snell, 38, faces a mandatory minimum of five years to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and at least four years of supervised release on the drug crime and a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the firearm crime, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.
The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Sentencing is set for Oct. 19 and Snell was detained pending further proceedings.
In court documents, the government argues that in July 2022, the Russell Country Drug Task Force in Great Falls learned that Snell was trafficking meth in the community and either supplied other distributors or distributed it herself. In August 2022, agents twice obtained meth from Snell through another individual, according to court documents.
On March 7, Great Falls police officers attempted a traffic stop of a car from Billings, but the car fled.
Officers did not pursue but looked in the area for the vehicle and its occupants. Officers found the car and saw a man, later identified as the driver, Bradley, and Snell, the passenger, walking away from it.
Snell stopped and complied with the officers, while Bradley ran away while carrying a brown purse, according to court documents.
Senior Police Officer Tanner Lee chased Bradley, who shot and wounded Lee, according to GFPD and court documents.
Officers on the scene performed tactical medical procedures and transported Lee to the hospital in a patrol car, according to GFPD.
Lee underwent surgery and has since returned to work at GFPD.
During the pursuit and shooting, Bradley dropped the purse, which officers recovered and found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun inside, according to court documents.
Bradley allegedly fled the area and was confronted by another GFPD officer within a block, where several shots were fired and the suspect was shot in the head and his injuries are critical, according to GFPD. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
County Attorney Josh Racki said he’ll soon be filing charges against Bradley related to the March 7 incident.
The handgun was a different firearm from the one used in the shooting. Snell admitted that the recovered purse was hers and that she knew it contained the handgun, according to court documents.
Snell has a prior federal felony conviction for assault and was prohibited from possessing firearms.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Betley is prosecuting the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and Great Falls Police Department conducted the investigation.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and make neighborhoods safer.
On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.